Yesterday was a strange day.
My father-in-law is a handy-man, odd-job guy – its how he makes a living. That said, if the wife and I ever need a little extra cash, he always knows someone willing to pay to get something done. We’re going to Laughlin later this month to celebrate my wife’s thirtieth birthday and her graduation from college. So, an extra couple hundred bucks to blow on slot machines and booze for a day’s labor isn’t such a bad gig.
Well, we thought it wasn’t at the time.
What we knew: This woman’s dad died, and they were going to sell his house. They piled up the shit they didn’t want into one room and needed it taken out to the curb and then the house swept and whatever. No biggie.
When we get there, the house is fuckin’ huge. We walk in and the first thing we see is piles and piles of dead horse flies all over the living room floor. The neighborhood had horses. No biggie still. Upon walking around the house, I started noticing piles of clothes and garbage EVERYWHERE, along with makeshift beds from random pillows and couch cushions (there was only one couch and at least 4 couches worth of cushions) that, upon further inspection, were pockmarked in blood, piss, and shit.
Did I mention the smell? That was the first impression. Yes, we turned on the A/C when we got there, but before that, this place was baking under the 110-degree sun for who knows how fucking long. Gag.
We opened the door to the room that had all the furniture and stuff they wanted moved and it was horrible. Imagine loading all the furniture, knick-knacks, clothing, etc. etc. of a three-bedroom apartment into one of the bedrooms.
Whatever. It was time to get to work.
But before we started, we looked through the cabinets of the kitchen and promptly found an aluminum pan with two used needles, a burnt spoon with some residue still on it, and your customary tinfoil.
Uh-oh. It was going to be that kind of house.
I proceeded to poke and prod each pile of clothes/junk/whatever with a broomstick before picking it up. Fifty percent of the time, there was either an uncapped needle or a god-damn scorpion residing in the filth.
Time goes by and we’ve acclimated to the job at hand. Needles, half-straws, tinfoil, spoons, and scorpions became commonplace and we had a method of disposing/killing them when we found them. Just like at my day job at the deli, the slabs of ham, turkey, and chicken are no longer animals, they are product to be sliced, diced, and served. No strings attached. At this point, I found myself cursing the junkie bastards under my breath every other minute. Faceless scum.
We cleaned up the mess in all the rooms but the main room – the room with all the furniture – we saved that for last.
We started in the corner closest to the door. Moved boxes of random crap and a bow flex machine. It’s when we got to the center of the room – where we realized was the living quarters for a couple, due to the two mattresses, tiny table, and dirty bowls and plates – that things became different. I was tired and instead of just picking up and throwing out, I started to peruse through the junk.
A notebook of poetry, most illegible, but the few pieces I read centered around the love for the writer’s daughter, Abby, and the guilt and regret of the life she was providing her. Then I found photos, rough and wrinkled, of what I could only assume was the daughter, the mother, and others.
The situation became more sad than gross at that point. I found myself applying the relics of their stay to their backstory I was constructing in my head. There was one stuffed animal on the bed, the rest were in a crate. Was that stuffed animal the girl’s favorite stuffed animal? How horrible, I thought to myself as I chucked it on the apex of the garbage pile.
Turns out, the squatters had to leave in a rush. Parts of the house were frozen in time. Microwave burritos, one bite taken out of one, left on the counter. A bowl of half-finished, now-rotted cereal left on the tiny table. A pair of kid’s shoes.
I didn’t want to put faces to the shitstorm. It was depressing. This wasn’t my first bout with seedy areas and situations.
I’ve lost both friends and enemies to the drug. It’s not easy watching someone spiral out of control with addiction, actively witnessing the deterioration of who they once were, who you knew them to be, who you loved.
I entered the house disgusted with humanity, I left having unearthed some humanity in the disgust.
There was a lot of other strange things about that house that made me feel like I was a character in a Chuck Palahniuk novel; Over thirty copies of The Watchtower, strange collections of tarot cards, pagan things, and a voodoo-like clump of human hair in a ziplocked bag accompanied by a napkin with lipstick kisses on it.
I’ll save those for another time, maybe it’ll prompt a short story or two. However, I must get back to work on Aphotic Realm’s Grimdark Grimoires and Issue #4: Dystopia.
B-horror movies and metal go together like peanut butter and jelly, and GRUESOME makes a damn fine sandwich. Cheers!